Key Questions To Ask A Potential Home Builder

Building a new home is incredibly exciting, but that excitement can quickly turn to disappointment if you make the mistake of hiring the wrong home builder. While most home builders are reputable, there are always those out there who try to get away with shoddy workmanship, cut corners, or try to rip you off in a number of ways. To help protect yourself and ensure that you end up with the new home of your dreams, consider asking prospective builders these pointed questions:

Are You Licensed and Insured?

This should be the first question you ask any builder you are considering. In most states, builders are required to have a license in order to work, so be wary of any builder who is unable or unwilling to present you with proof of a current, valid license.

The builders' insurance is critical as well. Without it, you could be held liable if any of the workers are injured while on the job or if there is any damage to the materials being used. You should not be expected to cover these types of mishaps; it is the responsibility of the builder to maintain adequate coverage. Before signing with a particular builder, make sure that you understand the scope of their insurance coverage.

Are you Licenced and Insured

Image credit @Paulbr75

What Is Your Level of Experience?

Find out how long the builder has been working in your area and how many homes they have built. A low number doesn't necessarily mean that the builder isn't any good, but you'll have limited previous examples by which to gauge the quality of the work. It will be up to you to decide if you are willing to take a chance on an inexperienced builder; at least you will be aware of all the facts so you can make an informed decision. With more experienced builders, you are less likely to run into as many obstacles, and if you do, those issues will likely be handled more professionally and skillfully. This is simply due to the builder having encountered similar problems in the past.

Can I See Examples of Previous Work?

This is the best way to get a sense of the quality of the work that the builder will deliver. Pay attention to the styles of the homes to see if they match with what you are looking for. For example, if you love the rustic or provincial look and a builder's past work is mostly in an ultra-modern or cutting edge style, that particular builder might have less authority in the style you want, as well as local knowledge of where to source specific materials. It works both ways - if you love the architectural look of the builder's previous work, you have likely found a good match. Some builders will have experience with a variety of different styles, so it's your decision if you would prefer a jack-of-all-trades or a builder with more specialised experience.

Examples of previous work

Image credit @jarmoluk

What Is Included in Your Price?

Just as important as finding out what is included is finding out what is not included. Depending on the builder you choose, certain materials or expenses may or may not be included in the price estimate. Each builder is different, so make sure that you fully understand the scope and limitations of the project. Also, make sure to leave plenty of room in your budget for additional expenses in case the final price is higher than the estimate due to unexpected additional charges. The better you understand what is and is not included, the easier it will be for you to keep your home build within budget, so be sure to ask this question in clear, plain terms.

What Is Your Expected Completion Timeline?

This may be more of a concern to some people than others, depending on your circumstances and how and where you are living. If you have the luxury of being able to stay in your current property for as long as you wish whilst work is taking place on a new build, this may not be a major concern for you. If, on the other hand, you have a specific date by which you need to move out, this will be a much more important consideration. As with the budget, home builds rarely finish exactly as planned, so it is best to always add on at least a few weeks to give yourself some flexibility. Find out how many homes the builder works on simultaneously and how much time they expect to dedicate to your property alone each week. You want to make sure that the builder that you choose has the ability to give your property the time and attention it deserves, rather than rushing through it to get to their next build.

Expected timeline of completion

Image credit @animatedheaven

Evaluating the Responses

At the end of the day, the final decision is up to you. Try to meet with builders in person, if possible, so that you can get a better sense of what it will be like to work with them. In making your decision, you'll need to weigh up the responses from various builders in accordance with which factors are most important to you. It is always better to ask too many questions than too few. You want to have as much information as possible to help guide you in making this important decision. After all, you'll be living in your home for a long time, so you want to make sure the job is done right.